There was plenty of optimism expressed at the inaugural meeting of the EU Smart Exploration project hosted on 15-17 January by lead organization Uppsala University, Sweden. This was the first occasion for representatives of the 27 European partner organizations including EAGE to get together to consider the next steps in the project’s mission.
Funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme, the goal is to identify and support innovative new solutions for the sustainable production of raw materials and exploration technologies. The project consists of a research and application team supported by a group of technologically advanced small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) associated with the mining industry as well as civil and professional societies such as EAGE.
Presenting the way forward, Prof Alireza Malehmir, project coordinator from Uppsala University Department of Earth Sciences, said: ‘We are ambitious and well-equipped with a great motivated team of professionals.’ Nikos Arvanitidis from the Geological Survey of Sweden told the gathering that ‘the journey towards the location of new exploitable mineral resources begins. Smart phones, smart TVs, smart techs: they all need and rely on smart exploration.’
One of the advantages of Smart Exploration, according to Joao Carvalho (LNEG, Portugal), was that ‘it brings side by side mining companies and state-of-the-art research, a combination that has proved to be successful in other parts of the world. Another impact of the project is its strong focus on environmentally safe mining exploration techniques and its dissemination across populations, contributing to the general public acceptance of mining activities.’
An example of how Smart Exploration might benefit mining was provided by Paul Marsden, managing director, Nordic Iron Ore. He described the project as a massive step forward for European utilization of natural resources providing a gateway to minimize intrusive exploration techniques and help reduce development time and costs. His company would benefit from the improved training/knowledge of advanced exploration techniques and local communities should potentially experience less impact from the exploration phase.
For EAGE, one of the project’s partners, Smart Exploration is an exciting departure in its service to members and the geosciences community. Marcel van Loon, EAGE Executive Director, said: ‘EAGE’s role is to ensure the results are communicated to partners and stakeholders and to strengthen cooperation between all project participants. With its significant membership base and access to the world’s leading geoscience and engineering network, EAGE is very well placed to use its existing resources to promote the goals and objectives of the Smart Exploration project.’
**This article first appeared in First Break in March 2018.